July 16, 2015 / 6:13 PM / 2 years ago

Rome promises a fusion of tradition and future

The ancient Colosseum is pictured before the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) procession in downtown Rome March 29, 2013.Tony Gentile

LAUSANNE (Reuters) - Rome promised a combination of "tradition and future", all done on a cost-sustainable basis, if it wins the right to host the 2024 Olympic Games, backers of the bid said on Thursday.

Rome signaled its intent by sending a 24-strong delegation, including high-level government officials, to International Olympic Committee (IOC) headquarters in Lausanne for a seminar for potential host cities.

Delegates said that Rome plans to use upgraded, existing infrastructure, much of it dating from their previous hosting of the Games in 1960, to reduce costs and eliminate the risk of building white elephant stadiums.

Refurbished venues would include the Olympic stadium which also hosted matches in the 1990 World Cup, and currently hosts Italian rugby internationals and Serie A clubs AS Roma and Lazio.

"Italy is not just a country of cultural tradition but also of technological innovation," Undersecretary of State Claudio De Vincenti, representing Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, told Reuters.

"Together with the international Olympic community, we want to organize an Olympic Games which is a fusion of tradition and future.

"We all think that Rome has the all characteristics necessary for the Agenda 2020," he added, referring to the IOC's initiative to encourage less lavish spending on hosting the Games.

"In particular, we already have the sporting infrastructure because of the heritage from our past experience."

IOC chief Thomas Bach has staked his leadership of the Olympic movement on his Agenda 2020 reform package, part of which is to make the bidding process for the Games financially less onerous for cities.

Four of the six candidate cities for the 2022 Winter Olympics dropped out and the IOC is desperate to avoid a repeat of that in the race to host the 2024 Summer showpiece.

De Vincenti said there was popular support for the bid.

"There is a big enthusiasm in Italy for the bid, a candidacy is for the whole country, and there is cohesion between the national government, the city of Rome and the Olympic committee."

The mayor of Rome, Ignazio Marino, promised transparency in public expenses.

"The transparency that we brought on board with the new administration will protect us, we will disclose every single we euro that we spent," he said.

"The process will be discussed with the population and the government and I think we are creating a new system and a new administrative culture in the city of Rome which will help us tremendously to protect us from that kind of issues."

Claudia Bugno, the general director of the Rome 2024 committee, said the athletes would come first.

"We want to have the athletes at the center of our bid," she said. "We are working with many sportsmen and many Olympians, to present a bid that represents sport."

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will announce the candidate cities that made it to the shortlist in 2016, before voting for a winner in 2017.

Reporting by Brian Homewood, editing by Tom Hayward

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